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Card Sleeve Review: Fantasy Flight vs. Ultra Pro vs. Dragon Shield
The Component Proponent
Updated: Tuesday, Mar 4, 2014
I host a gaming group in my town, which is awesome, and at a recent meetup, a fellow gamer was interested in Boss Monster and asked me if they could borrow my copy of it. Always happy to spread the board game love, I agreed. When the game was returned to me a fortnight later, it was in excellent condition, except that some of the cards were covered in sticky chocolatey fingerprints.

It became clear that in order to curtail continual contamination of my cardboard curios, I had two choices. Either:
  1.  sleeve the cards of any game that I let anyone borrow in the future, or
  2. become a jerk and never let anyone borrow a game of mine ever again.
Well, of course I went with Option B. It didn’t cost anything. Unfortunately, it turned out that this approach wouldn't work after all, because apparently it’s not physically possible for me to become a bigger jerk than I already am. So, until modern medicine develops a way for the human psyche to harbor a little more depravity, it was back to Option A.

I started researching card sleeves, and soon found that there’s quite a few different types available. New problem: how could I choose one brand of sleeves for my cards when I knew that there are other card sleeves out there that I hadn’t tried, which may sleeve my cards better than the sleeves I had selected? (Facial tick.) Long story short, yeah, I bought a bunch of different card sleeves. Here’s a comparison of what I found.

It’s a Component Proponent Component Competition: A side by side comparison of three commonly recommended card sleeves: Fantasy Flight vs. Ultra Pro vs. Dragon Shield!

Fantasy Flight Sleeves
The first type of sleeve I tried was Fantasy Flight’s sleeves. I’ve only been able to find them in packs of 50, with an average price of $2.49 per pack. A hundred sleeves would be $4.98, or 4.9 cents per sleeve.

Quite surprising for a Fantasy Flight product was that I turned out to be disappointed in them. They seem just a wee bit too wide and several millimeters too long. The result is a floppy bit of extra sleeve on the end that just sits there… flopping.

Pictured: End Flop

At first I thought that maybe I got a badly cut pack, but after trying several others, I found them all to have this issue.
Fantasy Flight Sleeves
2 x 50 count: 2 x $2.49 = $4.98 per 100 count. (4.9 cents per sleeve.)
Con: Suffers from end flop.

Ultra Pro Sleeves
The second type of sleeve I tried was Ultra Pro’s sleeves. They come in packs of both 50 and 100. A pack of 100 was $5.99, or 5.9 cents per sleeve. Very similar in price to the Fantasy Flight sleeves. Did the similarities stop there?

To my delight, the Ultra Pro sleeves had a much more snug fit than the Fantasy Flight ones. No floppy overhang. Looks like we have a winn-- eh? But what’s this? The Ultra Pro sleeves have a little hologram logo at the bottom.

Annoying hologram is annoying.

It’s not the end of the world, but, it’s kind of annoying and it can get in the way on some cards. Oh, Ultra Pro, you were so close!
Ultra Pro Sleeves
100 count: $5.99 (5.9 cents per sleeve.)
Con: Suffers from annoying hologram.

Dragon Shield Sleeves
The third sleeve I compared was Dragon Shield sleeves. These come in packs of 100, and include a free box! And they fit just as snug as the Ultra Pros, and their faces are annoying hologram free.

Comparison: Flight vs. Ultra Pro vs. Dragon Shield

I was just about to announce that I had found my card sleeving solution when I was interrupted by a gentle weeping sound coming from my wallet. You see, a pack of 100 sleeves is $9.99, or 9.9 cents per sleeve. That’s nearly double the price of the other brands of sleeves, which, unfortunately, makes them so much more expensive than the other options that I don’t know if even the free box can make up for it.
Dragon Shield Sleeves
100 count: $9.99 (9.9 cents per sleeve.)
Con: Suffers from highest price syndrome.

Bonus item: Ultra Pro Penny Sleeves
There’s one more type of card sleeve that I tried: Ultra Pro’s Penny Sleeves. You can get 100 of them for $0.99, that’s about a penny per sleeve… which I suppose should have been obvious to me. So, what’s my opinion of these “penny sleeves”? Not my cup of tea. They’re horrible. They’re ill-fitting, baggy and pretentious. They’re like my cards are wearing MC Hammer pants.

Uh-oh-uh-oh-uh-oh, can’t touch this!

 Never again, penny sleeves… never again.
Ultra Pro Penny Sleeves
100 count: $0.99
Con: Suffers from being horrible.

So there you have it, a comparison of three quality card sleeves, and penny sleeves too. Which card sleeve is the best choice? Well, that’s really up to you. The purpose of this review was really just to present the facts and let you decide for yourself.

Okay, internet, your turn. What other brands of card sleeves are available that I’ve missed? Let me know in the video's YouTube comments, or the Pair Of Dice Paradise website, FaceBook page, Google+ page or BoardGameGeek Guild.

So, until next time, thanks for watching an reading! I’ve been Chaz Marler, your Component Proponent.
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